Growing Up Special

Thoughts, ramblings, and encouragement from a special need sibling to the world

Win Friends, Influence People June 15, 2011

Another “Alyssa story.”

Every time I went to the grocery store with Alyssa, I was introduced to more of Alyssa’s friends. Turns out, she knows most of the town. And when she found someone she didn’t know, this conversation ensued.

A: “Hi! My name is Alyssa Barden! I’m 21 and I’m gwaduating from high school. What is your name?”

Random store worker looks up from unloading onions.

“Um… my name is Paul.”

A: “HI PAUL! Can I shake your hand?”

Walks over to where he is and shakes his hand.

A: “It’s good to meet you.”

Continues shopping.

I think I need to take lessons from her on how to win friends and influence people.


The Victory of Love June 10, 2011

You may have noticed some recent posts quoting from Hannah Hurnard’s book, Mountain of Spices. It’s probably clear by now that I like what she has to say, have learned a lot, and see how her words of wisdom can apply specifically to those of us with special need siblings.

This is another quote that seemed especially fitting.

“As you meet again with the evil and cruel things… remember the lesson which you have learned… and ‘count it all joy,’ for it all constitutes a glorious opportunity whereby you may learn to overcome evil with good and to share in the victory of love.”

It made me think about how Alyssa constantly demonstrates the victory of love. She never holds grudges. Never calls to mind the wrongs you’ve done. Is never too busy to give a hug or a compliment.

We could all stand to take lessons from the special people around us on “the victory of love.”


Graduation June 6, 2011

Well, it finally happened. As of about 10:30am on Saturday morning, Alyssa officially graduated. It was amazing. She was the first one to walk across the stage and the entire auditorium erupted in cheers and applause. I think she had more cheering than any other graduate.

For all the difficulties, exclusion, and whatever else she’s had to put up with in her life, it was beautiful to see an entire community support, encourage, and cheer her on as she celebrated this major life accomplishment. We were all in tears at how loved she is.

I’m sure there will be many more posts about Alyssa’s graduation… pictures, videos, stories, and the beautiful person that she is. 🙂


Privileged May 27, 2011

In case you ever doubted, wondered, or just never thought of it…

Here is a reminder that YOU, a sibling of a special needs child or adult, are privileged in ways that no one else ever can be. Don’t ever forget it.

You, in all your suffering and sorrow, are the most privileged of all beings, for you are to be perfected through suffering… if only you realized your destiny, how you would rejoice at every experience of trial and tribulation, and even in the persecution which comes your way… ‘for when you are weak,’ then you learn how to be made strong.”

~Mountain of Spices, Hannah Hurnard


Trial… or blessing? May 20, 2011

“There is absolutely no experience, however terrible, or heartbreaking, or unjust, or cruel, or evil, which you can meet in the course of your earthly life, that can harm you if you will but let me teach you how to accept it with joy and react to it triumphantly as I did Myself, with love and forgiveness and with willingness to bear the results of wrong done by others. Every trial, every test, every difficulty and seemingly wrong experience through which you may have to pass, is only another opportunity granted to you of conquering an evil thing and bringing out of it something to the lasting praise and glory of God.”

~Mountains of Spices, Hannah Hurnard

Sometimes, life is hard. It is good to remember that every trial ultimately brings blessing; ‘something to the lasting praise and glory of God.’  Do you doubt it?

Just think… can you imagine this world without the

beauty of special needs people?

Neither can I.

So glory in the hard times you may have with your special needs sibling.  Something great and good would be missing from your life without them.


Interviewed… May 18, 2011

I recently participated in an interview with a gal who is writing her thesis on sisters of young adult women with intellectual disabilities. It’s always interesting (and slightly weird) to talk about myself and my experiences in growing up special, but this was a really good experience. Kate was very down-to-earth and real and didn’t have any reactions of horror to my stories. (Which is good, because I’m very honest about life with Alyssa)!

Anyway, it just made me think more about how important it is to find and keep those people in our lives that we can be honest with. Sometimes special is hard. Sometimes it’s awesome. Sometimes it’s just plain different.

But if we can find those around us who understand where we’re coming from, encourage each other through the hard times, laugh during the good, and just be there no matter what, I think we’ll all come away as better, stronger people.


Alyssa-ism’s May 16, 2011

I love talking to Alyssa. She always says the most awesome/amusing/downright hilarious things.

For example, the other night she was showing me (over Skype) how awesome her sunglasses were. I asked to see them closer, but she informed me:

“I have to keep them on my head!!!”
(Of course, I asked why?)
“Because I WOSE (lose) dem.”

That makes sense to me!

And this one was just too sweet.

“You just made my day for the rest of my life.”